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There is so much written about Venice so I thought I would write about the practical things which I thought about or affected me rather than an in depth history of any place or building I visited. If you are interested in visiting Venice I am sure you will have your favourite attractions. The guide books say there are about 400 bridges; they are not as tiring on the legs as you might imagine. There was a lack of children walking and in pushchairs and I had to resist the urge to help the workmen dragging, single handed, large boxes and allsorts on barrows up and down the stairs; that is part of their everyday life.
In England it would be hard to imagine how people go about their daily life without cars, in Venice everything is moved by boat, the postal services, parcels, logs for building in fact all kinds of building materials and all the goods for consumerism - The boat ambulance and police force -just about every thing.
I only saw one person in a wheel chair and I would say that Venice is not really a place for the disabled but it made me think, I saw one bridge with a stair lift and some larger toilets at the airport. Maybe if someone stayed in a hotel on the Grand Canal they could manage with help but their itinerary would have to be planned thoroughly.
So what is Venice like? We have all heard that although it smells it is also very romantic. In winter it does not smell unless you are near building works, we must remember that sewage goes into the water but saying that the water looks as clean as the Thames in London. There was a lot of renovation work it is probably due to the time of the year as the Venetians get ready for their summer visitors.
There are over one hundred islands and over 150 canals, these are all divided into six districts. The wise traveller will look at a map of Venice before they book up their apartments. One couple I spoke to at the airport had a terrible journey and ended up in a hotel outside of Venice and had to travel in every day, not an exciting prospect for a short trip.
A cheap Ryan Airways flight will take you to the small Treviso airport which is 19 Kilometres from Venice; however a 10 euro return bus ticket will take you straight into Venice and fortunately for us a five minute walk to our accommodation. It is possible to fly into Venice's Marco Polo airport but with a different airline costing more money.
We were close to the bus station and water station which one would think was noisy but we were in the opposite direction with no cars allowed hence completely quiet and restful. Travelling around Venice is easy, a 25 euro three day boat pass, the realisation that there are only three bridges which actually cross the Grand Canal and a sense of humour was all that was needed.
It was cold -3 luckily with no wind but the cold did seem to affect me maybe because I was out in it for 6 to 8 hours at a time. However being so cold the canals did not smell. Thinking about smells though, we were sitting snugly in a water bus when a tramp got on and sat on the opposite side to us and two seats behind. Gradually, individuals got up and left that part of the boat to go to the front. Then we moved too. The front of the bus must have been tilting over in the water with passengers as we watched various people get on and invariably thinking 'oh a seat!' Their faces were hilarious as they swiftly left the back of the boat to join us in the crowded front. I have never, ever known such an awful smell. He must have known as he tried to open the window poor soul. As in most cities there are beggars and tramps but they do not confront or ask for money they generally sit like a statue with a hat on the ground.
There does seem to be a lack of toilets in the main outside areas so it is better to make sure you go in a public building, bar or restaurant. The street toilets are one euro which I thought was expensive - about 70p a wee! So I did not venture inside one of these on principle. In the main the toilets were okay, at one place I did wonder whether I had gone into one with just a bidet but then realised that most toilets are only about six inches off the ground. Tissue was scarce as was hot water.
As the carnival is due to start at the end of February there were some beautiful masks and costumes but mostly the souvenirs are cheap glass or plastic gondolas and various other tacky bits and pieces.
As you can imagine the delicatessens had some wonderful food, pasta in all sorts of shapes and colours, olive oil, cheeses, and the biscuits and cakes looked out of this world! We saw a couple of supermarkets but mainly the shops were small and catered for the individual. There are two main markets one for fish and the other for fruit and vegetables. Lace and marbled paper are a speciality. I bought a Venetian glass writing pen with ink which I shall thoroughly enjoy using. Leather boots, bags and fur coats are in abundance. Of course glass is very important to Venice as I will mention later.
Our first day was spent soaking up the atmosphere of the canals and Venice. We had travelled through the night and did our sight seeing in the morning by afternoon it was time for a quick nap. In the evening we went to a restaurant to taste the delights of Venice. It was expensive and my food was not quite what I thought I had ordered but it was nice although the food does get cold very quick- this was something we noticed throughout our stay - perhaps they could learn to warm the plates first.
On our second day - we went to the seaside by Vaporetta (The canal bus)
The sun shone on the 12 km yellow sandy beach The Adriatic sea lapped gently onto the sand. - A beach with a history of famous visitors. Shelley, Bryon, film stars and Royalty have all visited here at one time or another. I can see the attraction after the hectic city life of the canals. The island was called Lido which I imagine is where the word came from. This is the only island where there are roads and bicycles can be hired.
Fur coats and leather boots are a common sight in Venice the funniest moment I had on Lido was an elderly lady wearing a huge fur coat (which I detest) as she rode her bicycle - I found the sight ironic, sad but so funny as a caricature.
We walked along the main road in Lido- most of the hotels were closed as the season does not begin until June and finishes in September; I should imagine it is crowded then.
Our third day - Murano.
Glass has been made on this island since the 13th century. The pieces we saw were magnificent although we did have to be careful as there are many cheap imports but it is possible to recognise the difference in the quality the Murano glass is far superior.
We had been given some money to buy a piece for our home; the selection was enormous as were the prices. From heavy slabs of beautifully crafted glass and magnificent chandeliers, to the most intricate tiny pieces, every shop window had something different, a different style or colour combination. It was possible to truly see the difference in the artist's work. I have never really been interested in glass ornaments but saying this when we see quality I think we do tend to change our minds.
Murano was a quiet island no cars, just canals and very few boats, the hot chocolate was out of this world, Thick, creamy and almost like a whole bar of warm chocolate melted into a cup - treacle in texture mmm! Murano had a calm atmosphere which I found very therapeutic.
Many of the privately owned buildings look tatty from the outside with their wooden shutters but inside they are different. I suppose one could liken them to an oyster - a plain shell outside with a beautiful pearl inside - this is where you need to time to explore to see what is behind the water stained exteriors. The palaces and public buildings had wonderful sculptures outside the architecture are art pieces in their own right.
The art is wonderful with fantastic famous paintings by artists like Tintoretto and Bellini displayed in churches which are open to the public. Art galleries are in abundance from Baroque to Modern Art. Artists are busy with their pastels and water colours on the sides of the canal some working at night also.
Thinking about the wonderful art - there is a lot of graffiti which spoils the city but my art eye tells me the Venetians have a lot to learn about graffiti, in its place graffiti art tells a social story - in Venice it did not have the quality and depth of London graffiti.
Three days is not enough to see all that this city has to offer the marvellous buildings and art galleries. The city is rich in culture. Yes, we went to St. Marks Square, museums, churches and various other places of interest I loved the Rialto Bridge with its shops and lively atmosphere and the hot wine to keep me warm. It was very busy in February with queues for tourist attractions so you can imagine how busy it would be in the summer, for I would never go in summer just take a few layers of clothing and enjoy the winter air. The airport at Treviso was very poor for duty free apart from perfumes so if you want alcohol and cigarettes make sure you buy in Venice
Smoking is banned in public places the only litter we saw on the streets were cigarette ends.
There were not many children only a few visitors with young ones - I would not take children to Venice for a holiday.
Venice is expensive I suppose we spent about £600+ on a short three day trip- even with a cheap airline, We stayed bed and breakfast in very clean and recently refurbished accommodation which was a reasonable price and one I would recommend for being near the station and water buses.
I suppose we could say that we did push the boat out (or rather paid someone to) by hiring a gondola but it was Valentines Day and how could we go to Venice without the added luxury of treating ourselves to a little bit of Venus in Venice.
I loveVenice, amazing place, would like to go back some day, great review
mumsymary 19.11.2006 07:10
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Risque_Reporter 19.10.2006 19:17
Good op with factual info, but had a kind of 'Black and White' feel to it for such a colourful city.